Heaven on Earth Project

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Middle Eastern cuisine has an exceptionally wide range of vegetarian dishes. Most of these are vegan quality because it is custom for most of the Christian denominations in the region to abstain from all animal products for the whole of Lent, not just the meat free Fridays as has become the custom in the West. These same dishes are generally also vegetarian within Jewish and Arab traditions.


This dish originates in the Yemen. It is a shallow-fried pastry with (in this case) mushroom topping surrounded by a pool of tomato and/or chilli sauce. Once the main components are made and stored, preparing mellawah is very quick and simple. There are many variations to its final presentation but all revolve around the pastry preparation, its cooking and the sauce.
Tomato Sauce #44

or Chili Sauce #45


1.5 cups plain flour

1/2 t/s salt

1/2 t/s sugar

1 d/s margarine (in Australia, Nuttelex is the only commercial vegan margarine)

1/2 cup cold water

Margarine for pastry

Alternatively, a vegan commercial puff pastry can replace this preparation


1/2 t/s cumin seeds

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 medium capsicum chopped

2 - 3 garlic cloves chopped (optional)

250 gm mushrooms finely chopped or sliced

2 - 3 d/s margarine or oil for frying

3 - 4 d/s soy sauce (or to taste), or vegetable salt and if accessible, nutritional yeast

Fry the cumin seeds in the margarine or oil until they begin to brown then add the chopped onion to cool the oil. Fry until beginning to soften then add the capsicum (and garlic). Fry all these on medium heat until quite soft and beginning to brown. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms begin to soften. Add the soy sauce or the vegetable salt and yeast. Stir well and fry gently on simmer. When all the ingredients of the mixture are soft, remove from heat and transfer to a storage container such as a clean dry jar.

This next stage can be omitted if you have vegan puff pastry available at the supermarket. Simply score a frozen sheet of pastry with two evenly spaced lines. Snap the sheet into three pieces and smear a little oil between the pieces combining them into a single block.
Fry this with regular turning using tongs as you would the self-prepared pastry below.

Mix the flour, salt, sugar and margarine by rubbing it between your hands until the flour has an even consistency and the margarine has been compounded. Add the water and knead for a few minutes until you have formed an even elastic dough.

Sprinkle some flour onto a table or rolling board and roll the dough into a flat roughly square sheet about 0.5 cm thick. Spread a thin layer of margarine over the entire top surface then pick up one edge of the pastry and fold it over so that it evenly meets the opposite edge. This will form a rectangle. Spread margarine over this also. Lift up one short edge and fold it over to meet its opposite edge. Now carefully roll this into another square sheet and repeat the process just described at least 3 times so that you have spread the margarine at least 8 or 9 times. When you make the final fold, roll pastry into about a 1 cm sheet and cut it into two or more serving sizes that will fit into your frying pan. Place each slice into a moisture proof container or cling wrap and refrigerate until required for cooking. The pastry will keep indefinitely if it is pre-cut into practical sizes and then frozen.

Remove one piece of rolled pastry or the stacked puff pastry and place in a fry pan with about 2 or 3 d/s of melted margarine or preheated oil. Adjust the heat to prevent charring, cover with a lid and fry one side for a few minutes then turn it over and fry the other side until it has a brown crust over it. Repeat this until a thick golden brown crust has formed on both sides. If using the puff pastry, it will have risen to at least double or triple thickness.

Heat some of the mushroom mixture in a microwave or saucepan until hot. Place the fried pastry on a large plate, top with the mushroom mixture and pour some tomato and/or chilli sauce around the edge - pre-heated is best. Serve as a main dish or as a shared side-dish by cutting wedges from the pastry. Garnish with chopped spring onion, fresh coriander or fresh mushrooms. A sprinkling of nutritional yeast or nut cheese (# ) is also excellent.

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This recipe can be used to make croissants. Add 1 t/s of dried yeast when making this pastry recipe. Allow to sit covered and rise to double size after making pastry. Roll and paste as directed for Mellawah (#1). Make the final rolling thin. Cut into 10 cm triangles, then lightly roll up each of these from one apex . Curve into a horseshoe and place on a floured oven plate. When risen , bake for about 30 minutes at 180 degrees in a preheated oven .For a glaze brush on some egg replacer or a mix of 1 X potato flour, 1 X tapioca, 1 X gluten flour, pinch bi-carb, water or soy milk.
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This is one of the most widely prepared dishes of the Middle East. There are many variations to the recipe and often these variations are characteristic of their particular region. Homus is such a staple dish that a restaurant exists in Jerusalem serving only it with a wide variety of toppings and garnishes. It can even be served in pasta dishes.

250 gm chic peas soaked over night in water

100 gm tahini

100 ml lemon juice

1 t/s citric acid (optional)

60 - 100 ml olive oil

1/2 knob of garlic

1.5 d/s salt

1/2 t/s bi-carb of soda

500 ml fresh water for pressure-cooking.

Drain the soaked chic peas. Keep enough of the soaking water to use in cooking the peas. If you do not have a pressure cooker to use the water quantity above, simmer the peas, salt and bi-carb in just enough water to prevent drying out. If you use too much water you will lose a lot of flavor and food value by having to discard some of the stock after cooking.

Pressure cook the peas, salt and bi-carb in the fresh water for about 30 minutes. If you are simmering them, continue to cook until they easily squash between your fingers leaving no hard pieces. While they are cooking prepare the remainder of the ingredients strictly in the following order. You will achieve another flavour if you do not follow the order suggested.

Blend the garlic in the olive oil until fine. Add the tahini and continue to blend until smooth. If possible do this so that it can stand for about 1/2 an hour before adding to the peas and lemon juice. This allows the oil to "fix" certain flavours from the garlic.

When peas are cooked allow the pressure to drop and while still hot add the garlic-oil-tahini mixture and begin to blend with the peas using an insertion blender (e.g. a Bamix). Depending on the strength and quality of your blender, it may be better to blend the peas before adding the garlic-oil-tahini mixture and blending again. A smoother Homus will result. When this is of even consistency add the lemon juice and citric acid and continue blending until the entire mixture is very smooth. It should turn a creamy white colour during this stage. It will easily pour into a clean dry jar while still hot. Allow to cool and refrigerate. It should last 2 weeks and more if you use clean dry implements to process and serve it.

Serving suggestions: Spread the homus about 1 cm thick over a shallow plate leaving a few furrows and an outer ridge. Sprinkle with paprika or chilli powder, a little parsley and then a few streaks of olive oil. Tear open some pita bread and use this to scoop up portions of humos on the inner spongy surface of the bread.

In the Middle East there are restaurants which serve only homus but with a wide range of garnishes and toppings. A sprinkling of chopped hot chilli or pickles is a popular serving. Roasted pine nuts is another. A delicious presentation is to top the homus with some spoonfuls of the garlic-mushroom dish (# 53). The ong-choy spinach preparation (# 20) is another excellent combination. There are numerous serving combinations which you can discover.

Traditionally humus is eaten with your hands only. Although it is satisfying on its own with bread, it is often accompanied with salad falafel and other dishes some of which are in the following recipes.

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Like with homus, falafel can be found everywhere in the Middle East and there are as many recipe variations. The quantity in this recipe makes a very large amount of mixture but it will keep for a long time if frozen - especially if deep frozen. If you feel that the quantity is too much, scale it down in proportions such as 1/2.

1 kg chic, tick or broad beans or a mixture of these.
(Soak at least 12 hours or if broad beans soak longer)

2 medium onions or bunch of shallots

2 knobs of garlic

1 small bunch of coriander, including roots (optional)

500 ml fresh water.


1/2 cup sesame seeds

3 d/s cumin powder

2 d/s coriander powder (optional)

1 d/s cinnamon " (optional)

1/2 d/s black pepper

6 medium d/s salt

1 medium d/s bi-carb

150 gm yellow pea or chic pea (besan) flour. This will prevent disintegration of falafel in the cooking oil if chic peas only are used in the mixture. An alternative to the flour is to blend a portion or all of the peas very finely. This acts as a binding agent. Use some of the water volume listed in the ingredients for blending.

Drain the beans after soaking. The peas and beans should be soft enough to chew raw easily. Mince them through the fine grate of your mincer or food processor. Mince in the other top list of ingredients. Add the water and mix well.

If you only have a blender, process about half the raw peas or beans until they are a paste and the other 1/2 until they are a little granular; finely chop the onion and garlic with a knife then stir into the pea mixture.

Pre-mix the spices before adding to the beans. Mix all ingredients into an an even consistency. If you use the recommended amount of salt, the mixture will taste more salty than it will when cooked. This is because the salt and flavours are only coating the minced beans. It will later infuse the tiny bits of vegetable matter and be more evenly spread.

Each kg of the prepared mixture will make about 20 - 30 falafel so estimate what you need and freeze the remainder. Unfrozen mixture will keep about 2 weeks under good refrigeration. It might be worth testing one falafel in hot oil to make sure it clings together before packaging the rest of the mixture. Add more flour if the croquette begins to disintegrate.

Cooking: Heat vegetable oil (at least 4 cm deep) until it sizzles tiny drops of water splashed onto it. If you have an oil thermometer, set the temperature for about 160 degrees Centigrade. It will take a few experiments to determine how many falafel you can cook at once without over-cooling the oil or without charring the croquettes. Just be aware this can happen. Take walnut sized portions of the mixture, form slightly flattened round croquettes in your palm and drop them into the hot oil in as quick a succession as you can manage. This will allow each batch to cook fairly evenly. It should take each batch no more than 3 to 4 minutes to cook. They should still be green inside, evenly cooked and with a thin crust shell. If properly cooked they will absorb very little oil.

An alternative method of cooking falafel is by shallow frying flat portions of the mixture in a normal fry pan. They should be turned and evenly fried on both sides.

If you cannot be bothered making the mixture, it is often available in frozen form or the dried form at supermarkets and health shops.

Serving: Pita bread, lettuce, tomato, pickled turnip (# 24), and tahini sauce (# 10)and chili sauce (#88) are common accompaniments to falafel. Falafel rolls are also another popular serving style.

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This is a popular way of eating falafel in a balanced meal. Open a large pita bread. You will notice that one sheet will be firmer than the other. Use the spongy side of the firm sheet and spread some humos, shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, sliced cucumber, sliced pickled turnip and some onion. Break open 3 falafel and distribute them along the top of the salad. Now pour on a spread of tahini sauce and then roll the bread tightly. Wrap this in grease-proof paper and use that to support the roll when eating. The bread need not be separated if a more filling meal is desired. Toasting or grilling the roll evenly on all sides and then cutting diagonal slices, presenting them arranged upright to display the colors of the filling is an excellent falafel snack at parties. Allow the roll to cool a little before cutting with a serrated knife. Try adding hot chilli sauce to the roll.

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Crumble one or two falafel over a bowl of pasta and add a topping of tomato and/or chilli sauce. Heat to desired temperature then garnish with a spoon of homos or nut-cheese (page 54) or both, olives and shallots. Roasted pine nuts are excellent on any of these dishes. Excellent for rednecks.

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Try crumbling a few falafel into a bowl of salad. Especially one with lots of tomato.

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The following is a large batch recipe for falafel

2 kg chic peas soaked over night
200 gm sesame seeds (optional)

120 gm salt

60 gm cumin powder

20 gm black pepper

60 gm coriander powder (optional)

50 gm cinnamon powder (optional)

80 gm bi-carb

200 gm besan flour

800 ml water

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This is a more exotic dish than homos and although it can take more work and time to prepare, the eating makes it worth the effort.

Some varieties of eggplant contain a bitter juice and require a slightly different processing to make babaganoush. Most of the eggplant available in markets today do not have this undesirable property and make an excellent dip without removing either the skin or the juice. During the summer months of the year eggplant are prone to fruitfly. To select them, inspect the entire surface of the skin. If there is a small hole evident (usually near the stem), there is almost certainly a worm inside.

1 Large eggplant

2 Medium lemons = approx. 50 ml juice

100 ml (approx.) boiling water

50 gm tahini

50 ml olive oil

5-6 garlic cloves

1/2 t/s cumin powder (optional)

1 t/s salt or to taste

Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise if you want to check for fruit-fly worms. Place the eggplant under a griller with the cut surfaces upward. When the surface is beginning to brown, turn the halves over and grill the skin surfaces until they are beginning to char from the heat. If you are grilling the eggplant whole, rotate it from time to time to cook evenly. When its pulp is soft and the skin is charred, remove from griller. Save any seepage juice if you can.

When cool enough to handle or by using tongs and a spoon, peel off the charred skin - the more you leave the stronger the flavour of the Babaganoush and the darker its corolla. For a more delicate flavour discard all the charred skin but scrape off the cooked flesh on the inside of the skin with a spoon. This adds a smoky flavour to the babaganoush. If you have grilled the eggplant properly the pulp will easily mash into a smooth consistency, but the skin may need mincing or blending. Mash or mince the eggplant if it is not the bitter variety. If it is one which needs the juice removed, place the pulp into a clean strong dish cloth after removing charred skin. Squeeze away all the juice and discard it. Alternatively place the skinned pulp into as fine sieve and suspend this over a bowl. Stir the pulp gently. This will allow the juice to drain away.

Prepare the tahini sauce by blending the garlic with the olive oil, water and salt, then add the tahini and continue to blend. Blend this until it is an even consistency and then add the lemon juice. Blend until this is an even white creamy paste. Mix this tahini sauce with the eggplant pulp. Mash or blend until an even consistency. Allow to cool.

Serving: Spread a thin layer over a shallow (preferably oval) dish leaving a raised ridge around the edge. Garnish with a little paprika and a sprinkle of olive oil. Decorate with a few black olives. Eat by scooping it up with pita bread as with humos.

If stored in a clean dry jar and good refrigeration, the babaganoush should keep for at least 2 or 3 weeks.

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This sauce can be used everywhere but it is most commonly served as a dressing over falafel or simply in a bowl as a bread dip on its own. If it is made with boiling hot water and reasonable care taken to keep the jar and implements clean, it will last without souring for 2 to 4 weeks under refrigeration.

200 ml boiling water

2-3 garlic cloves

100 gm tahini

1 t/s salt

50 ml lemon juice or cider vinegar for a sweeter taste

25 ml olive oil, sunflower or other (optional).

Blend all the above in the order listed (salt can be added earlier). Blend until the mixture has turned into an even white creamy sauce. You may have to add more water or more tahini to achieve the right consistency of a thick but just liquid sauce. It will set to a firmer texture after refrigeration.

Blending in olive oil will make the sauce much richer and more to the liking of mayonnaise. Another variation in this direction is to use a portion of vinegar in place of some or all of the lemon juice. This will make the tahini sauce sweeter and tangier. For another variation add chopped parsley.

Serving: With falafel, bread, salad etc. Try it over shredded lettuce and tomato in a pita sandwich.

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Tabouli is possibly the most widely known Middle Eastern dish in the West. It appears to be of Lebanese origin. It is found in many variations but it is not the easiest of salads to be consistently successful with. Once you hit upon a good technique it is worth the effort of preparation, not only to eat but also to decorate the dinner table.

1/2 cup burghul (steamed cracked wheat)

1/2 white onion finely chopped

1/2 t/s salt

1/4 t/s black pepper

1 bunch of fresh parsley, 2 bunches if small

1 medium tomato

1/4 bunch spring onion or shallots

2 d/s finely chopped mint leaves

4-6 d/s lemon juice

4-6 d/s olive oil

4-6 d/s water

Soak the burghul in 1 cup of boiled and cooled water for about 1/2 an hour. All the water should absorb and the burghul swell in this time. Mix in the chopped onion, salt and pepper. This can be used as a stock for about 1-2 weeks to make more tabouli if it is carefully stored and refrigerated and if boiled water is used to soak the burghul.

Remove the heavy twigs from the parsley and chop the leaves fairly finely. Another method is to hold the parsley bunch by its stems while finely chopping the leaves. Chop the spring onion and the cucumber into very fine pieces. The tomato can be diced or cut into small wedges. Some people recommend to discard all the seed pulp of the tomato and to use only the outer flesh. Mix all these together.

Add about 2 heaped dessert spoons of the prepared burghul mixture to the salad. Mix well. The burghul should only appear as speckles and not conceal the salad greenery.

Add the salt and the lemon juice, and coat the salad by mixing well, then add the oil and mix again. At this stage taste the salad. It should be slightly, but not prominently tangy from the lemon. Serve heaped shredded lettuce.

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The origin of this salad is more likely Morocco where it is served in a number of variations but it is excellent with humos, babaganoush and falafel if you like a hot spicy salad.

1 bunch of finely chopped parsley

200 ml chilli sauce (see page 59)

50 gm olive oil

50 gm lemon juice

salt to taste

Mix all the above ingredients and serve as a side dish in a shallow bowl.

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This is a very simple and quick dish to prepare if you have a regular supply of tahini sauce in your refrigerator. It is a satisfying meal on its own with pita bread or is an excellent addition to any of the other Middle Eastern dishes in these recipes.

Boil some cauliflower in water with salt and a sprinkle of turmeric (and a few optional lime leaves) until it is soft enough to easily slice with a fork or a blunt knife. If pressure cooking, this will take reaching pressure and immediate cooling the pressure-cooker under running could water. Drain the boiling water. Use this as a soup or curry stock, but to avoid spoilage use it within a few days.

Place pieces of the cauli on a medium rimmed dish and drain off any excess water. Cover the cauli' with a generous coating of tahini sauce which should cling in a thick layer over the surface. Place this in a hot oven for about 3-4 minutes (longer if the cauli' was cold). A microwave` oven takes about 1 minute if you begin with a hot mass of cauli. Remove from oven and sprinkle with paprika and a little chopped shallot. Fresh ground black pepper and chopped coriander are nice also.

An excellent variation to this is to mash 1/4 of an avocado into the tahini sauce before spreading over the cauliflower.

Serve with pita bread and eat by scooping the cauli' like a dip.

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This soup keeps well under refrigeration and is well liked by children.

For every 1L of water:

100 gm brown lentils

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/2 stick celery, " "

1-2 chopped garlic cloves

1 d/s grated ginger (optional)

1 medium potato, diced

1/4 t/s black pepper

1 t/s cumin powder

1 t/s garam masala powder (optional)

1 d/s salt (or to taste)

1/2 lemon juice

3 or 4 chopped spinach stems and leaves (optional)

paprika and/or tahini sauce to garnish

Fry the onion, garlic, celery and ginger (if your using it) until the onion is soft, add the potato and fry a little longer. Add the water, then the lentils, salt, pepper , cumin and the chopped spinach stems. If pressure cooking, set the time for 5 minutes, otherwise bring to the boil and simmer until the lentils until they are disintegrating and the potato are very soft. You will have to add more water if simmering.

When cooking is complete either blend about 3/4 of soup by using an insertion blender (e.g. Barmix), or blend until most of the soup is pureed with a few whole lentils and small pieces of vegetable remaining. If you prefer, puree the entire soup. Add the chopped spinach leaves (or silver beet) if you are using it and bring the soup to the boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes then add the lemon juice and allow to simmer a few more minutes.

If you intend keeping the soup for a few days, allow the ladle or jug with which you will transfer the soup to the storage container to boil in it for the last few minutes. This will reduce the chances of the soup souring in refrigeration. Transfer to a clean dry glass jar while the soup is still simmering.

Serve hot and garnish with a sprinkle of paprika and chopped parsley. A spoon full of tahini sauce (#10) is also an excellent garnish.

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100 gm brown lentils

1 medium onion chopped

3-6 garlic cloves chopped

ginger - thumb size- chopped or grated

2-3 celery stalks - chopped

2-3 medium potato - cubed

1 d/s cumin powder

1/2 d/s garam masala

1/2 d/s black pepper

1 d/s fennel powder or seeds

10 lime leaves (optional)

400 ml water

1 d/s salt

Fry the onion, ginger and garlic gently in a few d/s of oil, until soft. Add the spices, stir well. Add the water, lentils salt and celery. Simmer for about 10 minutes covered. Add the chopped potato and when boiling simmer on very low heat with regular stirring until potato and lentils are soft. Cool and make into pies or triangles as with the samosa recipe (# 61).

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This is an ancient dish and is renowned as the National Dish of Egypt. In Egypt a special pot is designed to cook this dish. The cooking procedure traditionally takes up to 24 hours. This recipe uses ful beans (also known as "tick peas") although broad beans are also commonly used in the Middle East. These are more commonly found in Western supermarkets than are the ful beans which are always available at Arab or Greek stores.

250 gm dried ful beans (or dried broad beans)

50 gm split peas (optional but good)

1 medium onion loosely chopped (optional)

1 garlic knob - cloves crushed or chopped

1/2 t/s black pepper

3/4 d/s salt or to taste

75 ml lemon juice

Olive oil for frying and serving


pita bread

Tomato diced

White onion chopped

avocado (optional)

olive oil

Soak the beans and peas in about a litre of water over night or for about a day if you are using broad beans.

Drain the beans into a measuring jug and if you are using a pressure cooker, make up what is left of the soaking water to 700 ml with fresh water. Add this to the cooker along with the beans and salt and pressure cook 5 minutes

If you are simmering the beans, make up the remaining soaking water to about 1 litre, add to the pot along with the beans and salt and simmer covered until the beans are very soft. This will probably take at least 2 hours. You may have to top up with water during this stage. The mixture after cooking should be about half beans and half water.

While the beans are cooking fry the onion (if you omit these, increase the amount of garlic) in some olive oil and when it begins to soften, add the crushed or chopped garlic. Turn the heat down so as not to burn the garlic. When the garlic is becoming soft add the black pepper and fry gently for about 30 seconds. Add this to the cooked beans and simmer with regular stirring for about 1/2 an hour.

Add the lemon juice, stir in well, bring to the boil slowly and remove from heat as soon as simmering is even. If you intend to keep this preparation for some time, transfer it to a clean dry glass jar and refrigerate when cool.

If you are using a pressure cooker, you can fry the onion, garlic salt and pepper prior to adding the beans and pressure cooking. Add the lemon juice after letting down the pressure and simmering.


Ful medames is usually served hot in a bowl and copiously sprinkled with fresh diced tomato, onion rings or diced onion and a covering of olive oil. It is eaten as a dip with pita bread. For a delicious variation add slices of ripe avocado to the topping salad. Add more black pepper for a spicier serving. Another traditional variation is to serve ful with a topping of tahini sauce (#10).

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A satisfying dish which can be served as a snack or a side dish with almost any cuisine. It is equally nice served hot or cold but its delicate flavors do not last long in storage.

1 medium onion finely chopped

10 medium mushrooms sliced

100 gm burghul

100 gm pine nuts or almonds

1/2 bunch parsley

1/2 d/s salt or about 75 ml soy sauce

2 - 3 d/s vegetable oil for frying

Begin by soaking the burghul in about 200 ml of boiling water. It will take about 1/2 an hour for the grains of wheat to soften and absorb the water. Cold water will take considerably longer.

If you are not using pine nuts, it is worth lightly chopping the bigger nuts like walnuts so that the pieces are about as big pine nuts. Place the prepared nuts in a fry pan with a little oil and fry lightly for a few minutes taking care not to burn them. You can use roasted mixed nuts from a packet to by pass this step.

Fry the onion in oil for a few minutes and then add the mushrooms and fry until both are soft. Add the salt or soy sauce at this stage. It will release more juice from the mushrooms causing them to stew. Cover and simmer this mixture on low heat until the mushrooms and onion are soft.

Add the nuts and the parsley. Mix in well and simmer for a few minutes, then add the soaked burghul. Most of the water should have been absorbed but do not discard any that hasn't. Stir this mixture almost constantly until it is steaming. It will tend to burn at the base of the pot or fry pan. If it begins to dry out too much add a little water. The final product should be a mixture of loose grain and nuts. It should have very little liquid remaining.

A nice alternative is to use white wine instead of water to soak the burghul and add to the mixture. Another alternative is to use cuscous instead of burghul.

Once it is evenly hot and steaming remove from heat and immediately transfer to a sealable container - preferably glass - to prevent too much drying.

Serve garnished with chopped spring onion. An excellent dish with salads.

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Marinated vine leaves are usually available in Arab and Greek stores but if you have access to vines, try using some of the fresh young tender leaves for this recipe. Although it is quite time consuming, it is not all that difficult to marinate your own leaves and have a supply throughout the year. It is important to check whether toxic horticultural sprays may be present on the leaves you intend picking.

The commercially available marinated leaves are likely to have a very high salt concentration and should be washed in running water before use. This does tend to remove some of the fermentation flavor of the vine leaves. An alternative to washing them is to omit adding salt to the filling mixture.

The following mixture is only an example:

100 gm rice grain (uncooked)

50 gm burghul (un-soaked)

50 gm pine nuts (optional)

1/2 d/s cumin powder

1/2 t/s black pepper

1 medium onion finely chopped

or a few d/s of dried onion flakes

1/2 d/s salt

3 d/s dried mint

50 ml lemon juice

600 ml water

1 medium tomato

Mix all the first set of dry ingredients together in a bowl.

Slice the tomato and arrange the slices to cover the base of the cooking pot to prevent the vine leaves burning and sticking to the pot.

When you have washed the vine leaves and removed any thick stem, spread each leaf flat one by one as shown in the diagram below and place enough of the dry mixture on it so that when you enclose and roll it into the leaf, the roll is about 1.5 cm thick.

Arrange each roll neatly on the tomato slices making sure to pack them firmly next to one another and with the flap of the leaf facing downwards. Continue to layer upwards until all the rolls are packed in. Place something like a flat plate on the top layer of the vines to prevent them floating and unrolling during cooking.

Mix all the liquid ingredients and pour them over the vines. Bring to the boil slowly and then simmer with a well fitting lid for about 30 minutes in which time all the liquid should have been absorbed and the rolls swollen to pack the vine leaf firmly. Fresh leaves will take about 1/2 hour to soften on simmer. Allow to cool and firm for about 30 minutes before trying to remove from the pot.

Serve in any arrangement with some quarters of lemon. Squeeze some juice over them before eating if you like a tangy flavor.

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This preparation can be used in a variety of ways besides being made into a roll. It can be a pie filling or served as a bread dip. It can also be made into spring rolls with added nut cheese. When served as a dip its rich green color enhances the table decor.

1/2 cup black-eye beans

1 bunch silverbeet or spinach (alternatively use

frozen spinach)

1 medium onion chopped

3-6 cloves of garlic crushed

1 d/s salt

1 t/s ground cumin

1/2 t/s ground black pepper

1/2 t/s ground nutmeg (optional)

75 ml lemon juice

2-3 d/s oil for frying

Soak the beans in some water for about 1 hour or overnight before you are ready to use them. Although this variety of bean cooks very quickly and does not normally need soaking, doing so will reduce the cooking time.

Fry the onion in oil until it begins to soften. Add the garlic and fry gently for a few minutes. Add the other spices and salt then the black-eye beans and lemon juice. Add a little water, but keep the level below the top of the beans because you need a fairly dry mixture after cooking. Chop the heavy stems of the silverbeet very fine and add to the mixture but do not add the leaves at this time. Bring to the boil and simmer with regular stirring until the beans and stems are soft.

Wash and chop the spinach leaves and add them to the simmering mixture. Stir regularly to prevent burning . When the preparation begins to simmer evenly, remove from heat. If you intend storing the preparation, transfer it to a clean dry glass jar. It will take about a day for the mixture to firm so that it is easy to use in making rolls.

Serving: Warm and spread in a bowl or a shallow plate as a pita bread dip. Garnish with a light sprinkle of lemon juice. It can also be served along with rice or corn chips.

Roll :

Separate the two sheets of a round of pita bread and spread some margarine (Nuttelex and Becel are two brands of margarine which contain no animal or milk products) on the inner side of the strongest sheet. Spread some of the spinach mixture across the margarine side about 2/3 from the rim. Carefully roll the mixture into the bread and then place under a grille or a toaster (preferably one which toasts from both sides at once). Grill or toast until the bread is evenly crisp.

Remove from grill and allow to stand for a few minutes before slicing into bite-size pieces. A serrated knife will cut the roll into neat pieces. For extra presentation, slice each piece diagonally. Arrange these slices on a plate with the cut surface facing upward.

Another use of the prepared spinach mixture is to make pies or pasties. The same pastry mixture as is used for samosa (#88)

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20. ORIENTAL SPINACH - a simple alternative

The previous recipe can be made without using beans, but it will be a much wetter preparation needing a little corn meal or other starch flour at the end of the cooking to take up all the juices. The following is an easy and quick preparation which is best with ong-choy but also works with regular silverbeet.

1 Bunch spinach (de-stemmed and chopped)

or 2 bunches ong choy (also known as kang-kong)

1/2 knob garlic (crushed or chopped)

100 ml lemon juice

1 or 2 hot chili - chopped (optional)

50 ml soy sauce or equivalent salt

50 ml olive oil or sesame oil

Gently fry the garlic (and the chili if you are using it) in the oil. When the garlic is beginning to brown add the lemon juice and the soy or salt. Allow to simmer for a moment then add the chopped ong-choy or spinach and allow to simmer for just a few minutes. Do not discard the stems of ong-choy. They cook within a few minutes

Serve hot with bread, with rice, on pasta, or with a dish like humos (# 3). Try cooking this dish with a little more olive oil or with sesame oil, especially if you are preparing it as a dip or to serve with pasta. Add some brewers or other yeast flakes such as nutritional yeast to the mixture at the end of cooking. Spinach and nut-cheese rolls made with spring-roll skins are also an excellent use for this preparation. (# 41)

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This is a very visually appealing and tasty dish although it is simple and has very little spice. It can be served hot or cold but it seems to be more popular hot.

250 gm chic peas

1 medium onion chopped

1/2 bunch of silverbeet or spinach

2 d/s grated ginger

1 d/s salt

1/2 t/s bi-carb (optional)

1/2 d/s sugar

1/2 d/s black pepper

75 ml olive oil

75 gm tomato paste

1/4 d/s asafoetida* also known as "hing"

Soak the chic peas over night in about 1 litre of water. Do not discard the remaining soaking water but measure 500 ml of it and pressure cook the peas in it with the salt and bi-carb for 5 minutes. More water will have to be used if you are going to simmer the peas. Cook the peas until they are soft but not mushy. They will cook sooner and have a softer texture if bi-carb is used.

While the peas are cooking, fry the onion and ginger in the olive oil. When they are soft add the black pepper, the hing, tomato paste and the sugar. Fry all these gently until an even pasty consistency is formed. Mix in the peas and bring to a simmer.

Wash and chop the spinach and add it to the pea mixture. Simmer until the spinach is soft.

* Asafoetida or hing is a food additive which is used extensively in India and the Middle East. Besides adding a characteristic flavor it prevents flatulence which can result from pea dishes. Some denominations of Hinduism which do not use onion and garlic use hing as a flavoring agent.

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Artichokes add a delicious and exotic tone to any dinner party. They are extremely simple to prepare and can be kept for at least a week under refrigeration after cooking. Pressure cooking is the easiest method. You will have to adjust the ingredients according to the number of artichokes you are cooking.


Water to cover

50 ml cider vinegar for every litre of water

2 d/s salt for every litre of water

50 ml olive oil

3 or 4 garlic cloves

Tahini sauce (# 10)

Remove the stems and leaves from the base of the artichoke flowers. These are good to eat but have a more bitter flavour .Cut the stems into about 5 cm pieces. Arrange the artichokes in your cooking pot so they are sitting facing upwards. Inter space the stems and leaves between the flowers. Measure roughly how much water it took to just cover the artichokes and then add the suggested amount to vinegar, salt and olive oil.

Pressure cook for about 5 minutes and allow the pressure to come down at its own rate. If you are using a simmering method, try cooking them for about 1 hour on slow simmer. You need to cook long enough so the heart is soft inside. After removing from heat and allowing to stand for about 15 minutes, drain off the cooking liquid and store the artichokes in a bowl. Use the cooking water to cook the stems and leaves. This will not take as long as the flowers.

Serve the flowers and pieces of stem and leaves with a dipping bowl of tahini sauce, especially one made with a mixture of vinegar, lemon juice and chopped parsley.

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This dish can be made in a variety of ways. Instead of green beans, eggplant and/or zucchini can be used. Also instead of using water to dilute the tomato sauce base, a light red wine or a white wine such as moselle can be used. It will keep for a long time under refrigeration.

1 onion chopped into slivers

1 knob of garlic, crushed or finely chopped

100 ml olive oil

400 gm tomato paste

400 gm sliced peeled tomato

1 t/s black pepper

2 d/s salt

1 t/s mixed herbs

1 kg green beans, fresh or frozen

500 ml wine (optional)

Pour about half the olive oil into a saucepan and fry the onion on medium heat. When it begins to soften, add the chopped garlic and fry on low heat for about 10 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent burning. The garlic should not be too brown as this will add a bitter flavor to the sauce. Add the remainder of the oil and stir it in. Add the tomato paste and peeled tomato and stir until the oil has completely mixed with it. Add the pepper, herbs and salt. If you like a wine flavor, add about 500 ml. Otherwise add that amount of water. Stir well and allow to simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes. Add the green beans. When simmering begins, stir well for about 1 minute then remove from heat and transfer to a clean jar.

Repeat the procedure if using zucchini. If using eggplant, you will have to prepare it beforehand. Slice about 1 kg of it into about 2 cm sections then cut these into cubes. Pour about 3 or 4 d/s of salt over the cubes and stir so that all the pieces are coated and then leave in a colander to drain for at least an hour. Squeeze and wash these cubes under running water before adding to the prepared tomato sauce. In this case only add 1 d/s of salt to the sauce because some will remain in the eggplant cubes. Simmer the eggplant in the sauce until it is soft then remove from heat.

Another alternative is to heat about 1 cm deep olive oil in a pan or wok and to quickly fry the eggplant pieces before adding them to the sauce. In this case be careful not to over cook the eggplant once they are in the sauce.

Serve this dish hot or cold with pita bread and with other dishes such as falafel and humos.


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Slices of pickled turnip add flavor and highlighting color to almost any dish in these recipes. It is worth making and storing in a cool spot where it should last 2 months or longer.

10-20 medium sized turnips (careful they are not woody)

2-3 medium beetroot

3-4 garlic cloves

3-4 sprigs of tender inner celery leaves


750 ml boiled and cooled water

250 ml cider(or wine) vinegar

100 gm salt

Peel the tough skins from the turnips and quarter them. Slice the beetroot 5 or 6 pieces. Place the beetroot, garlic and celery at the bottom of a large clean jar. Pack in the turnip pieces. It is important that none of the turnips are exposed to the air during the first week or so of fermentation, so either pack them in tightly or find a clean weight such as a small plate which can be used to keep them under the solution during this period.

Dissolve the salt in the water then add the vinegar and shake well. Add enough of this solution to cover all the turnips and store the remainder. It will keep indefinitely. This pickling medium can be used to ferment fresh olives and fresh vine leaves for making stuffed vine leaves (dolmades). It can also be used to ferment gherkins. Inspect the turnip jar daily to make sure all the turnips are covered with solution. Add more if you have to. Invert the jar a few times each day so that the beetroot dye is evenly distributed. The turnips should be ready in about 1 week although they will continue to improve for the next month. After a week store the jar in a cool spot away from direct sun light. Remove turnip quarters with a clean implement to reduce the contamination of the solution. Serve 1/2 cm slices with falafel and salads etc.

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For an interesting variation of olives which can be served with any of these Middle Eastern dishes simply pour off a little of the brine in which the olives are immersed, sprinkle in some ground oregano, chili powder (optional), drop in a few garlic cloves and top up again with olive oil. Shake or invert daily to allow the flavors to penetrate the olives. Ready in about 2 days.


Many areas of Australia have olive trees who's fruit simply ripen and rot on the ground. It is worth picking these olives and pickling them.

One simple process is to use the same pickling juice that is made up for pickled turnips (page 18 ). For a spicy variety add garlic and spices such as fennel seeds, chili, oregano and onion rings to a jar. Top it up with fresh black or green olives and then fill it with enough pickling juice to cover all the olives. Weigh down the top layer with a clean rock or a plate and allow to ferment for about 2 weeks. In colder weather it may take longer.

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Cut fresh cauli' into about double bite-size pieces. Deep-fry these until light brown. Drain oil and place on absorbent paper to drain, sprinkle with salt. Serve hot or cold.

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This preparation has an exotic taste and presentation. It can be used in combination with any Middle Eastern dishes. It can be presented hot or cold, but it is especially nice at room temperature.

1 bunch endives

1 or 2 medium onions

1 knob garlic

200 ml olive oil

1/2 d/s salt

Cut the onion into about 1/4 rings and fry them gently in the olive oil. Slice the garlic thinly and add to the onions when they are beginning to soften. Remove the base of the endive and separate the leaves so they can be washed. There often are sand grains in the core of the stems. Drain as much water as possible from the stems. It is worth patting them dry with a cloth. Chop the stems and leaves into about 2 cm pieces and add to the frying mixture and stir. Add the salt and allow to fry for about 5 minutes once the mixture begins to bubble evenly. Remove from heat and transfer to a dry jar.

Serve hot or cold with almost anything Eat with pita bread as a dip. Add to rolls or toast. Sprinkle with savoury yeast.

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